I have noticed that women love mentoring. We love seeing the best in someone and we are good at drawing that potential out. We desire to share our hard-learned lessons so that others can skip over our mistakes and progress further than we ever did. The look on another woman’s face when she has a realization she would not have gotten on her own is priceless to us.
On May 26, 2016, our Hera Fund Wingpact Founder Funder Conversation was all about this. We had a unique opportunity to discuss “Raising the Next Generation of Women Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors” with Jagruti Bhikha and Priya Bhikha. Jagruti and Priya are one of the very few mother-daughter angel investor pairs we know, and they also are engaged together in advancing the ecosystem for women entrepreneurs around the globe.
When we spoke with Jagruti and Priya, they were calling in from Hong Kong, where they were about to attend the RISE Tech Conference together. They had been traveling throughout Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai, learning about the developing innovation ecosystems in those places.
We heard from Priya and Jagruti about creating role models and bridging generations. As the conversation progressed, multiple interwoven and related threads emerged.
Jagruti has had a long-standing passion and commitment to supporting and mentoring women entrepreneurs around the world. Through her involvement and leadership in projects such as Grace Hopper Celebration India, Women Entrepreneur Quest, Jagriti Yatra, and the first women-only hackathon in India, Jagruti Bhikha has mentored thousands of women worldwide.
Priya shared how her mother originally helped her get involved with angel investing. And, even as part of the “younger generation,” Priya is a global mentor in her own right. On this trip, Priya also visited Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Tokyo. In each locale, she has been connecting with women business owners and entrepreneurs and sharing ideas with them about how they might grow their businesses and have a bigger impact on their families and communities.
During the course of this conversation, we discovered we were each involved in concentric circles of mentoring: in our families, communities, and the world.
Silvia Armitano Mah, Founder of Hera Labs and Hera Fund, has life experience that mirrors the circles of influence that the Bhikha family demonstrates. Every day, through Hera Labs, Silvia supports women entrepreneurs in her community of San Diego to help them step up and bring their businesses to the next level. At the same time, Silvia carries a global perspective. She had two guests from Russia on the call with us who are part of a growing connection and exchange that Silvia is building with the St. Petersburg innovation community. Meanwhile, Silvia is raising three children and teaches them about things like what makes a company investible.
I can relate to the experiences of Silvia, Jagruti, and Priya. I am also a mom, I have been a mentor for many women in my community, and I share the passion for building bridges between women across continents and cultures to advance opportunity for women.
What we discovered is that for us, the “pipeline” for women entrepreneurs is not a linear thing, as it is usually described. We as women have multiple concentric interwoven connections with others through which we mentor and support other women. We connect in our families, our communities, and around the globe. These are not separate activities for us, they are all integrated into the fabric of our lives. And our roles are fluid and overlapping, as demonstrated by Priya learning from her mother at the same time she mentors women entrepreneurs throughout Southeast Asia.
How do we find the time and energy to have this level of influence in so many spheres? Our answer is work-life integration. We don’t have separate times and spaces for our different relationship and responsibilities – we integrate it all together. For example, Silvia talks around the dinner table about some of the due diligence she is doing on investment opportunities, and sometimes even brings her kids into the process to evaluate kid-facing products. Jagruti uses her travel time with her daughter(s) to attend tech and innovation events with them.
These characteristics and habits of integration, mentoring, interweaving, and support are powerful practices that come naturally to women.
Women are also globally-oriented, and naturally connect with other women in different places and cultures. As Jagruti says, “Every culture has a different set of challenges, but the common thread is that the support of other women is important to us all.” Using our habits of thinking multi-dimensionally and addressing multiple goals at the same time, we women can simultaneously address global, community, and family challenges in very context-sensitive and effective ways.
Our conversation was a hope-inspiring revelation of these feminine passions and methodologies. It’s important to identify, own, and celebrate these powerful integrated and connected ways of working, so we can leverage them to maximum benefit. If we can do this, we will certainly be able to move faster toward global solutions and opportunity for all.
You can view this entire conversation on YouTube, and hear more about specific practices the participants use in their mentoring.
Our next Hera Fund Wingpact Founder Funder Conversation will be held on Thursday, June 23, 4-5pm PST, and will feature Valentina Vitols, Pipeline angel from Seattle. Join the conversation – follow Hera Fund on Facebook and watch for the link to the hangout.
Finally, for more conversations like this one and much more, don’t miss the Hera Venture Summit in San Diego on September 17, with sessions for women entrepreneurs, women angel investors, and building bridges between them.
Also published on Wingpact’s blog, Soar Higher.